Pacific one of three private universities awarded grant to expand underrepresented students’ access to health professions

nursing students work with a mannequin in the clinical skills lab

Students in the nursing program practice their skills in the simulation lab. Nursing is one of nine programs in the School of Health Sciences.

More underrepresented students will have the opportunity to attend University of the Pacific’s School of Health Sciences and pursue careers in health care with the recent awarding of a $2.5 million grant from the state.

Pacific is one of only three private universities among 20 organizations in the state to receive funding as part of the Health Professions Pathway Program, a state initiative to increase recruitment and support of underrepresented students who want to work in health care.

The funding will address health care disparities in California by creating a more diverse workforce.

"This grant accelerates our ability to recruit and admit underrepresented students, but it doesn’t stop there. The funds also expand support for those students to thrive throughout their educational experience at Pacific and into the healthcare workforce," said Kris Himmerick, director of assessment and accreditation for the School of Health Sciences and lead writer for the grant.

The Central Valley, where Pacific’s Sacramento and Stockton Campuses are located, has one of the largest shortages of health care workers in the state. In 2022, the university enrolled more than 1,500 health care professionals across disciplines.

“Pacific has a strong commitment to the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion and is a leader in health care education,” said Nicoleta Bugnariu, dean of the School of Health Sciences. “The grant will allow us to build pipelines, increase access into health profession careers, enrich the student experience and ensure their success by returning to our communities a highly educated healthcare workforce that is representative of the population they serve.” 

Pacific will use the funding to expand collaboration among the School of Health Sciences, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry and Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy.

The partnership will support students with expanded recruitment events, enhanced student support and more holistic admissions practices, which consider multiple aspects of an applicant such as experiences, academics and potential contribution to the school and field. 

All students will additionally benefit through enhanced cultural and linguistic curriculum, additional clinical training with underrepresented populations and support for career placement in rural and Health Provider Shortage Area sites.